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October 30, 2015

Flyers' Jake Voracek can't buy a goal right now

After finishing 4th in points a year ago, the forward has yet to score a goal

Flyers NHL

When it rains, it pours.

That's the way this season has gone -- at least in the early going -- for Philadelphia Flyers forward Jake Voracek, who signed an eight-year, $66 million extension this summer. Through 10 games this season, the 26-year-old forward, who finished with with 22 goals (and 59 assists) last season, has yet to score and has just three points, all assists.

The fact that he's yet to find the back of the net is not due to a lack of effort; heading into play Friday night against the Sabres, Voracek was fifth in the league with 40 shots. Furthermore, according to the Flyers, there were 47 players who have recorded 27+ shots on net this season at the conclusion of play Thursday night. Of those 47 players, only two -- Voracek and Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings -- have yet to score a goal.

That's quite a drop-off from a year ago, when his 81 points (almost one/game) were tied with Alexander Ovechkin for fourth in the NHL behind Jamie Benn (DAL, 87 points), John Taveras (NYI, 86 points) and Sydney Crosby (PIT, 84 points).

By this point in the 2014-15 season, the Czech forward had already tallied 15 points (3 G, 12 A), including a point in all but one of the Flyers first 10 games. In fact, Voracek had a point in 17 of the Flyers first 19 games, so it wasn't as if he points were coming in bunches.

This season, however, he has only registered points in two of the Flyers first 10 games. Here's a side-by-side look at just how drastic of a drop-off there's been in Voracek's production:

2014-15
G | A
2014-15
POINTS*
GAME2015-16
POINTS*
2015-16
G | A
0  |  11100  |  0
0  |  1
2200  |  0
0  |  1
3300  |  0
1  |  0
4410  |  1
1  |  2
7510  |  0
0  |  0
7630  |  2
0  |  2
9730  |  0
0  |  2
11830  |  0
0  |  2
13930  |  0
1  |  1
151030  |  0
 3  |  12
15TOTALS30  |  3
*Cumulative

Following the Flyers' 4-1 loss to the Devils on Thursday -- their first regulation loss since falling to the Stars on Oct. 20 -- Voracek was asked about his frustration level regarding his slow start. 

“Sometimes you are second guessing yourself when you don’t produce and I think that is the case," Voracek said. "Sometimes, I make plays that I make on a consistent basis. And now, if you are second guessing yourself, that is when you don’t make those plays."

"It’s tough, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves we have to go and get points on the road.  That’s the bottom line.”

The Flyers didn't do that on Friday night against the Sabres, falling 3-1 in Buffalo. The game was the first of a five-game road trip after the team was home for six of their last seven. Not only did the Flyers fail to get a point in the game (like they did in their OT loss to Buffalo on Tuesday), but Voracek also failed to get on the board.

And he had a heck of chance early to do so...

The Flyers loss came even after head coach Dave Hakstol mixed up his lines in the hopes of sparking his offense, especially a top line that has struggled mightily this season. That's right, Voracek isn't alone. The entire trio of starting forwards has underperformed this season.

Captain Claude Giroux has just three goals this season, two of which came in last week's win over the Bruins. And Michael Raffl, whose 21 goals last season were a pleasant surprise, has just one assist and, like Voracek, has yet to find the back of the net.

“It’s very frustrating," Giroux said Thursday. "But we’ve got to find a way to do good things for the team and when we’re out there, we just have to make sure we play within the system and play as a team.”

Giroux added that his line had "chemistry" in the past and felt they could find that again in the future. But after another game with no production from his starting forwards, Hakstol felt as though he had seen enough.

The biggest move by the first-year coach was his decision to remove Voracek to the second line -- with Scott Laughton centering he and Brayden Schenn -- and replace him with winger Wayne Simmonds. Matt Read also replaced Raffl, who moved to the third line between R.J. Umberger and Sam Gagner.  

And although the lines looked different against the Sabres, the result was much of the same.


Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin